How To Cook Asparagus 5 Ways

How To Cook Asparagus

Asparagus’ adaptable, light flavor makes it a versatile vegetable apt for a variety of cooking methods. This vibrant veggie adds a fresh crunch to salads when served raw, takes on a tender bite when roasted, or develops a crispy, charred flavor when grilled. However you choose to cook it, asparagus remains a standout vegetable of spring.

While asparagus’ peak season is April, it is readily available February through June. It’s likely even available year-round in states such as California. We love cooking with it this time of year since it can be found in abundance both at grocery stores and farmers markets. Asparagus is a member of the  Environmental Working Group’s “Clean Fifteen”, meaning it has a low pesticide load when grown conventionally.

It’s not just asparagus’ versatility that makes it a spring favorite, it also has an abundance of nutrients to boot. Asparagus has high levels of vitamins B1, B2, and K, folate, copper, and selenium. It also has anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its antioxidant nutrients. Not to mention asparagus also helps with digestion and blood sugar regulation.

When choosing asparagus, look for dark green and purple tips with freshly cut ends. The stems should be firm and rounded. Avoid spears’ whose ends have dried out as they will lack flavor.

Gather up your asparagus spears and learn how to cook this all-star veggie with us!

Asparagus Purple, Green White shutterstock_367820072
Image of green, white, purple asparagus on slate via Shutterstock

There are three types of asparagus; white, purple, and green. The varying hues indicate a slight difference in flavors. While all are edible and enjoyable, it’s important to note the differences.

White asparagus takes on its colorless hue because it’s grown in the dark which prevents them from producing chlorophyll. White asparagus is considered a delicacy in many cultures and is harder to find due to its more complex method of growth. It also is tougher in texture and more bitter than green asparagus which means it must be peeled and cooked longer. Purple asparagus gets its color from antioxidants known as anthocyanins which are common in purple foods. It also has a sweeter, more fruity flavor than traditional asparagus. It only requires light looking or is even best enjoyed raw.

How To Cook Asparagus 5 Easy Ways

How To Cook Asparagus

1. Raw

If you choosing to eat asparagus raw, we encourage purple asparagus since it lacks bitterness and is instead sweet and fruity. Trim ½ inch of the ends and chop into ¼ inch pieces. Toss with sea salt and pepper and serve as desired.

2. Blanch

To retain asparagus’s vibrant color and enhance the flavor, you can blanch it for a quick cooking method. Simply bring a pot of water to boil and have a nearby bowl of ice water ready. Add trimmed asparagus to the boiling water and boil for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove and quickly plunge into the bowl of ice water for one minute. Drain and season with sea salt, lemon juice, or other desired topping.

3. Steam

Steaming asparagus eases the texture and gets rid of any bitterness while still preserving the nutrients. To do so, fill a pot with enough water to reach the bottom of a steaming basket. Trim the ends of the asparagus and cut until it fits easily in the basket. Steam for 3-5 minutes, until fork-tender.

4. Roast

Tried and true, roasted asparagus is swoon-worthy with its tender texture and buttery taste. A little drizzle of olive oil goes a long way as it naturally wilts and becomes moister as it roasts. To achieve perfectly roasted asparagus, preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Trim the ends of the asparagus to your preference, making sure to get rid of any woody ends. Drizzle the asparagus with 2 tablespoons oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for 10-15 minutes until fork tender. Squeeze half of a fresh lemon over the asparagus and serve.

5. Grill

Preheat a grill or stovetop grill pan. Trim the ends of the asparagus and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a touch of lemon zest. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Place asparagus on the grill diagonally. Grill for about 5 minutes, tossing halfway through so all sides are evenly cooked. Remove from grill and top with fresh squeezed lemon juice.

Asparagus Recipes

Grilled Asparagus Recipe with Lemon White Wine Fettuccine
Image via Karissa Bowers

Grilled Asparagus Recipe with Lemon White Wine Fettuccine
Pair chargrilled asparagus with fettuccine noodles and a white wine sauce for a refreshing spring dinner.

Pan-Grilled Asparagus and Endive with Fava Beans, Orange and Basil Recipe
Image via Erin Kunkel

Pan-Grilled Asparagus and Endive with Fava Beans, Orange and Basil
This endive salad features pan-grilled asparagus making it the perfect, refreshing way to use asparagus during late spring and early summer.

Whole-Wheat Asparagus Tart Recipe with Ricotta-Egg Filling
Image of asparagus quiche via Shutterstock

Whole-Wheat Asparagus Tart Recipe with Ricotta-Egg Filling
For chilly days, warm up with this comforting and aromatic baked whole wheat tart topped with asparagus.

Related on Organic Authority
4 Tasty Asparagus Recipes for a Springtime Meatless Monday Meal
7 Spring Vegetables: From Peas to Purple Asparagus
Meatless Monday Recipe Roundup: The Asparagus Cleanse

Images of asparagus on wood board via Karissa Bowers


Karissa Bowers

Karissa Bowers

Karissa Bowers is a fashion and food blogger living a compassionate lifestyle. Karissa is the blogger of Vegan À La Mode where she shares her favorite vegan and gluten-free recipes and also her eco-friendly cruelty-free style. Her love for photographing food and her outfits, drove her to develop a passion for photography. After a few years of honing in on her photography skills, Karissa launched her business, Karissa Bowers Photography, where she shoots weddings and portraits. When she’s not taking photos or in the kitchen, you can find Karissa traveling and trying new vegan restaurants.



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Caramelized Endive and Blue Cheese Tart

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When I first heard about tarte Tatin, nothing sounded better to me. What first seems like way too many apples packed into a skillet, then caramelized and baked under a blanket of buttery pastry, then turned out and served warm, became one of my favorite desserts.

I’ve had recipes for them in several of my books, but also enjoy the savory version. I’ve seen upside down tarts made with fennel, tomatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables, but an upside-down caramelized tart with Belgian endive always appeals to me the most. The contrast between the slightly bitter, chewy, spears of endive, make the base for a perfect savory tart, especially in the winter. And I don’t think anyone would disagree.

I’ve mentioned before that in France, Belgian endive isn’t considered a luxury ingredient and is widely available, even in supermarkets, where it’s sold by the kilo (2.2 pound) bag. I seem to always have some since it’s so good added to a winter salad, perhaps with pears, pomegranates, and blue cheese, or braised and baked into a savory gratin.

A while back, someone called me out for being pretentious when writing “bleu” cheese, so I’ve been doing my best to call it blue cheese. (Fortunately endive, and endive, are the same words in English and in French, so you don’t have to suffer through me on that one.) However even in English, bleu sounds better, and I think people know what it means without having to translate it. So you can use any kind of blue, or bleu, cheese that you’d like in this tart. The stronger, the better.

The dough is pretty simple to put together. And since you’re not really going to see it, it doesn’t matter if the sides are perfect, or if it buckles and rises in places.

Once baked, under a crackly, crispy disk, most sins are forgiven, even bleu, or blue ones. And who can quibble with a warm, savory tart on a cold winter day? I know I can’t.

While this caramelized endive tart is especially good right out of the oven, it’s also excellent reheated and served the next day for lunch. You could also cut it into smaller wedges and serve it as an appetizer, and if you’re not fond of blue cheese, slightly aged goat cheese would work just as well.

 

Caramelized Endive and Blue Cheese Tart

Print Recipe

You could dress this up with some black olives or branches of thyme baked with the endive.I bought puff pastry for this tart because I felt like it. (Actually, I had a gazillion things to do and there are worse problems in the world than using store-bought puff pastry made with all butter.) But if you want to make your own, you’re welcome to. If you’d rather use a standard tart dough for this, make the tart dough that goes with this quiche recipe.If you like a lot of cheese, have some extra bits handy to strew over the finished tart, when it’s warm from the oven. (The heat of the tart should melt the cheese, but you can coax it along with a butter knife.) Chopped chives or parsley would make a nice garnish.

2 tablespoons butter, salted or unsalted

1 pound (450g) Belgian endive, about 7 spears

kosher or sea salt

freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon sugar or honey

4 ounces (115g) blue cheese, cubed, plus additional cubes if you wish, for finishing the tart

8 ounces (230g) puff pastry

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180º).

2. Melt the butter in a 9-inch (23cm) cast iron skillet. Cut the Belgian endive spears in half lengthwise. Sprinkle some salt and pepper over the melted butter in the pan and lay the endive spears, cut side down, in the bottom of the pan. They may not all seem to fit right now, but really try to crowd them in together, so they’re as close as possible.

3. Cook the endive spears over medium-high heat, pressing them down as they cook, but doing your best not to disturb or move them around, so they brown nicely on the underside. Once the cut sides of the endive are well-browned about 4 minutes, sprinkle the endives with the sugar or drizzle with honey, cover the pan and put in the oven to bake until the endive spears are almost cooked through, about 25 minutes, depending on their size.

4. Remove the pan of endive from the oven. Distribute the blue cheese cubes in the spaces between the endives, as well as on top of them.

5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry to a 12-inch (31cm) circle. Drape the dough over the endives, and tuck the outside edges of the dough between the endives and the inside of the pan.

6. Bake the tart until the crust is deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and overturn a serving platter on top. Holding both the pan and the plate, wearing oven mitts (being careful since some very hot liquid may drip out of the pan when doing this), turn both the plate and pan over to release the tart from the pan. Reunite any endive spears that may have stuck to the pan and bits of cheese. If you’d like, add a few more cubes of blue cheese over the top, while the tart is still warm.

Serving: Serve the tart warm. If you want to make it in advance, it can be rewarmed in a moderate oven, on a baking sheet. It’s best the same day it’s made.

It’s great with a green salad made of winter greens, such as escarole, radicchio, or frisée drizzled with walnut or hazelnut oil and a bit of sea salt. It’s also a good lunch along with a simple green salad with a dressing made with sherry vinegar and minced shallots.

Caramelized Endive and Blue Cheese Tart: A great French recipe for lunch or dinner

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